The Future: You’re Doing It Wrong.

13 Mar

Warning: this is a geeky post.  Also, I’m not an expert on the timeline here, some things may be off a little, but me overall point stands.

My husband and I went to Disney World for our Honeymoon two months ago and we were both looking forward to the Carousel of Progress ride.  But I think we wanted to watch this attraction for different reasons.  He wanted to watch it simply because he likes history.  I wanted to watch it to point out all the historical inaccuracies.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s historical inaccuracy.

Strangely enough, my beef is not with the actual historical parts of the attraction.  The 1920s, the 1950s?  I don’t have too many problems with those, except for the forced dialogue.  E.g. “I hear there are two men trying to create some sort of flying contraption, it will never work.”  “We now have electricity in the house!”

No, my beef is with the segment of the ride that claims to be a look into the future.  Now, the future hasn’t happened, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m 99.99% positive that this depiction of the future will be historically inaccurate.  It’s just… wrong.

Evidently that segment of the ride has been updated a few times over the years.  The only thing I can compare is the segment I saw as a child when traveling with my parents (c. 1996, 2000) to the segment I saw two months ago, which the Birnbaum Guide claimed to be recently updated.  It had been ten years since I’d seen it last and I was excited to see the updates!

While searching for photos for this post, I came across two images of past “future” scenes, from well before I was a child at Disney.  This first one appears to be from the 1970s…

via Google Images

… I base this off the pants, the brick counter, and of course the obvious lack of personal computer.  This picture was taken before personal computers were imagined for the future.  I think Disney got this one right.  It seems to me this future came.  And went.

From what I have found in my ten minutes of researching, it seems they update the ride every decade or so.  This is from what I think may have been the 1980s…

via Google Images

… I base this off the computer in the background.  I might believe this was 1990s poorly done if it weren’t for those chairs at the kitchen counter.  If you can verify what decade these two previous photos came from, feel free to comment and let me know.

Anyway, two months ago this is what the ride looked like:


Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of what I saw in 2000, the year I visited before this last trip.  The big disappointment was they were essentially the same.  I can tell you for sure, the oven gimmick was completely the same and the only visible update I noted was the addition of a large screen TV.

So, why is this scene of the future historically inaccurate?

  • The clothes scream late 80s/early 90s.  No kids wear polos with bold horizontal stripes in primary colors anymore.  And the dad’s sweater looks like a Bill Cosby reject.  Also, note the scarf around the mother’s neck.  None of these fashions is even modern, let alone futuristic.
  • The cabinets haven’t been updated in about three decades.  I don’t know anyone today, let alone in the future, who would prefer that style of white, fake wood cabinet.


  • I would have been thrilled to own that laptop… in 1995.  That thing is a dinosaur.  Not very futuristic.  You can tell they tried to update the scene with the flat screen monitor behind the mother, but that doesn’t stop the other “antiques” in the room from standing out.
  • The phone has a cord hanging out of it.  Failed attempt at a “video screen” next to it.
  • That oven is straight out of the 1980s.
  • Those book bindings don’t seem especially modern to me.  They kind of scream 1990s cookbooks.
  • Dry erase boards in the future?  You gotta remind the kids what time dinner is, after all!  Hell no, that’s what a BlackBerry is for.


  • Hey, it’s Christmas!  Now that never gets old-fashioned, but what’s with those greeting cards on the mantle?  Paper greeting cards aren’t very futuristic, especially since Hallmark came out with DVD Christmas cards this past Christmas and even video and webcam greeting cards this past Valentine’s Day.
  • Look at what the daughter is wearing.  It looks like something I would see on The Golden Girls.  And those boots are decidedly 80s.
  • That furniture isn’t very modern and even the Mickey Mouse under the tree looks like it’s from the 1990s!


  • I saved this picture for last because this is the portion of the scene that gets me the most.  Again, note the son’s shirt, sneakers, and “Mom jeans.”
  • He’s teaching Grandma to play virtual reality games!  Those headsets don’t look especially futuristic.  Don’t you think virtual reality in the future would involve something smaller and more discrete?
  • But what gets me the worst is the TV itself.  I guess Disney thought adding a giant screen TV would make the scene more modern, but this TV kind of looks like an old tube to me.  The future of television certainly doesn’t involve tubes!  Modern TV doesn’t even involve tubes anymore!
  • Look at those speakers on either side of the TV.  So tall and chunky.  Again, not modern, not futuristic.
  • And the TV screen itself, that’s not a very good image on the TV.  It’s not crisp, Hi-Definition TV at all.  And the graphics in that video game scream early 1990s.

Oh Disney, you fail at the future.  (Yes, I realize that statement works on many levels, but I am still referring to this scene from the Carousel of Progress.)  Overall, I don’t see an ounce of the future in it, though I do see a lot of heaping tablespoons of the 1980s/90s!  It’s a good blast from the past I suppose, but that’s not what the imagineers were going for.


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